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¬PÄ@ (1999)
Fly Me to Polaris


Reviewed by: Hyomil
Date: 01/03/2011


Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 12/03/2007
Summary: Romantic with a capital

Cecilia Cheung certainly started her film career with a bang. “Fly Me to Polaris” hits all the sentimental, bathetic and mawkish changes with the subtlety of a Yao Ming slam dunk. It is a formula weeper, a tasteless trip into the heart of a cloying fairy tale and so sickly sweet it should carry a Surgeon General’s warning that it could cause diabetes. In other words it has a role that almost any actress would love to do and Cecilia wrings every drop of pathos from it. She was terrific. My wife cried a lot, I cried more than a little and I think our cat shed a tear or two.

Richie Ren was amazingly unannoying, William So was along for the ride and the very attractive Sheren Tang was funny and appealing. Eric Tsang showed another side—a “real” side, if you will—of human mourning in his quiet anguish over his daughter, a drug addict who he loved as only a father can love a daughter but who has as lost to him as if she were dead. It was a very touching, low-key performance. The last shot he is in has Jumboball stoically burning paper money as part of a funeral ritual. We don’t know if he is doing it for Onion or for his daughter and it is all the more heartbreaking for its ambiguity.

Jingle Ma shot part of this movie and whoever lit and shot the scene in which Autumn runs through the hospital at night calling alternately for Onion and Kruek is an absolute master of his trade. The steadicam operator following Autumn up and down stairs, around corners, from light to shadow, did a great job. It was a thrilling scene, seamlessly shot and edited in one long take that worked beautifully.

Whoever found or designed the hospital/dormitory setting was a genius. It was full of secret places, stairways going nowhere and blind turnings. But it wasn’t sinister in the least—it was a lovely place, gleaming with fresh whitewash and full of flowers and tropical plants. There were simply a lot of places in which a person could be either alone or with others simply by walking through a door or turning a corner.

The score was so over the top as to defy description. It was just there, constantly underling the already obvious emotional content of scenes, making sure that even the most obtuse audience would know it was time to be happy or sad.

The plot was as straightforward as a movie plot can be. There were no villains—the yuppies accidentally killed Onion when he tripped into the path of their car were shown later kneeling at a makeshift altar on the spot where he died, showing the proper respect. Dr. Wu, Onion’s only challenger for Autumn’s heart, was a well meaning but very dull medical professional.

It would be churlish to point out any of the many shortcomings of "Fly Me to Polaris" and it is recommended for anyone who wants a good emotional wallow.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 09/30/2003

Formulative, cheesy, flawed, and pathetic - it really is. And it works. I am a HUGE fan of Richie Ren's music, and I must say his acting is no less an achievement. One of my favorite movies.

[8/10]

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: JohnR
Date: 08/09/2003
Summary: Cecelia Chung Is Awesome

Most of us have a half-empty box of kleenex around the house somewhere. I recommend you get it and keep it beside you while you watch this tear-jerker, because Cecilia Cheung will cause flash flooding on your face. I was very impressed with her in her debut in Stephen Chow's "King of Comedy" and she's back with another strong performance here.

The story itself is simple: Richie Ren is Onionhead (translated simply as "Onion" on the DVD), who lost his sight and speech as a boy. Abandoned by his parents, he lives/works in a
hospital where he meets one of the nurses, Cecilia as Autumn. They fall in love, but neither will reveal it to the other. Onionhead dies suddenly, filling Autumn with the pain of loss but also with profound remorse at not having told Onionhead how she felt while he was still alive.

Meanwhile, Onionhead is offered the chance to return to Earth for five days before resuming his afterlife journey to Polaris, which is where we all go after we die (hence the dopey
English title of the movie). Naturally, Onionhead jumps at the chance to actually see his beloved and give her a proper goodbye. But there's a catch: no one will recognize him as being Onionhead and he can't reveal his identity (even if he tries). Will he find a way to
reveal his true identity to Autumn? Will he find out she never really loved him but only felt sorry for him? Will he help her forget him and move on with her life? Mmmmm, could
be.

Richie Ren does a nice job as Onionhead and there is chemistry between him and Cecilia. Though my opening comments about the kleenex may lead you to belive this film is schmaltzy, it isn't. Cecilia wrings real emotion out of her scenes, they're very touching. I think I
had to fight harder to stop a gusher the second time I watched than the first time, it's that powerful.

I highly recommend this film.


Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 03/29/2002
Summary: Good

Seems that everyone liked this film, and there's good enough reasons to. I agree with various points several reviewers made, and I must say that yes it is quite emotionally powerful. Much better than the recent 'Marry A Rich Man' which also stars Richie Ren which is complete nonsense.

Recommended.

Rating: 3.5/5

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: Sasami
Date: 03/29/2002
Summary: Can you say... MANIPULATIVE?!

Oh where would the world be without the occasional weeper movie to instill a sense of joie de vivre into everyone's lives?

The plot is formulaic, with all the ingredients of a tear-jerker thrown in. The bittersweetness of unrequited love? Yep. Gentle ghosts coming back to touch the life of a loved one? Got it.

Cecilia Cheung and Richie Ren play wholesome characters who are so sweet that they probably wouldn't need sugar in their coffees. Call me a cynic, but that lended itself to a sense of unbelief (that there are people in this world who are so unburdened and simple) I couldn't shake. Both actors put up a charming performace though, and I couldn't find fault with that.

In the end though, I succumbed to the manipulative plottings of the scriptwriters and bawled like a baby.

Recommended, provided that the viewer remembers to stock up on tissues.


Reviewed by: danton
Date: 01/03/2002

This movie tries every trick in the book to pull at your emotional strings, and thanks to a great performance by Cecilia Cheung, in mostly succeeds. The story is intriguing, even if marred a bit by an excess amount of sentimentality: "Onion" (played by Richie Ren) is a cheerful blind/mute guy with a crush on his nurse "Autumn" (Cecilia Cheung). She feels the same way about him, but neither one dares to express their feelings. Onion dies in a sudden accident but is given a chance to go back to earth for 5 days, under the condition that he cannot reveal who he is.

The movie stays on the emotional surface mostly, and there's a lot of crying and heartache, but I was pulled in. Recommended.


Reviewed by: Trigger
Date: 11/20/2001
Summary: 9/10 - Worst Movie Ever! I loved it!

The Film - 9/10

The Saddest movie ever made. I was crying like a teenage girl who got stood up on prom night. It's Hong Kong's answer to Heaven Can Wait with Warren Beatty except it's not a comedy. It's about a blind mute guy and a nurse who share unspoken love for each other. He dies and is sent to heaven where he's granted one wish which is to return to earth. The catch is that nobody will know him and he can only stay for 5 days. This is an emotional train wreck. The ideas are simple and the effects are cheap but the acting by Cecilia Cheung sells this movie. I seriously have never cried so hard at a movie before... I'm a grown man and I'm not just getting teary eyes, I'm totally bawling with snot running down my face and getting my shirt collar soaked with tears. It most likely won't have the same effect on everyone - maybe it caught me at a bad time, but I swear I felt ok when I popped it in... :)

I didn't care much for the ending, but by saying that I'm saying I didn't much care for the last hour of the movie. It's just really really really really really really really sad. If you want to see a good movie that isn't quite as sad - go watch Heaven Can Wait cuz Warren Beatty is a riot in that. :) Avoid this film though cuz it's a nightmare.

The DVD - 8/10

Delta Mac makes great DVDs. They also do something that annoys me... they don't quite subtitle everything. I mean they'll do a great job on the subtitles and stuff, but they always just kinda leave a bit out here and there. I don't know why. It's like manufacturing a jigsaw puzzle and before sealing the packages to be shipped off to the consumers you throw out a few pieces from each box. It's a little annoying, but that's my only complaint. The sound is 2.0 only, but it's not like you need some DTS 5.1 surround or anything. All you'll be able to hear anyway is your sobbing... not to mention that you'll go deaf trying to unclog your running nose by popping your eardrums out.

The Acting - 9/10

Cecilia Cheung was fantastic. She really catches you off guard. Richie Ren played a blind person ok - he kinda played it more like he was a retard though which was a bit distracting... not too. Once he came back to earth he could talk and see, and he seemed to do that just fine. I guess he was pretty good too - if he had sucked, I wouldn't have been so emotionally tied into this piece of crap. The rest of the cast was backdrop basically - although I did kinda like Cecilia's pregnant sister... she was funny. The doctor that also loved Cecilia might as well have been played by a box of hammers.

Overall - 9/10 :thumbsup:

I hated this film with every fiber of my being and I'm definitely keeping it in my collection so I can torture myself every time I'm feeling sad about a breakup or I'm just missing my girlfriend... I wish she could watch this. She probably wouldn't cry though. Maybe I'm just a sissy. :p

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: Will Chan
Date: 06/12/2001
Summary: Two thumbs up

There's not much I can add to the plot summary. Sharon has done a very good job of that already. This is one of the better films to come out of Hong Kong in recent times and as a emotional, tear-jerking romance movie it excels, although I would have to say that the premise is not overly original and the film did borrow many elements form the Warren Beatty film "Heaven Can Wait" (I personally think that Polaris is by far the better and more effective flick). It has been well casted with Richie Ren (surprisingly) and especially Cecilia Cheung holding the film together with aplomb.

This is the way that HK cinema should be making films. The script is well thought out and all-in-all it's a breath of fresh air, standing out well in the staleness that is the more usual HK fare. It shows what can be achieved with some intelligence and inventiveness in terms of updating old ideas like the Warren Beatty movie).
(4.5 stars)

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: sharon
Date: 06/12/2001
Summary: WONDERFUL

A wonderful emotional movie! You can't help but feel for each and every character in the movie.

As the movie starts, you are introduced to Onion, who's both blind and mute. Played by newcomer Richie Ren, he provides a happy you can't help but pity character. Onion has Autumn, a nursed, played by Cecilia Cheung, woh takes care of him. They have a wonderful relationship together, but both are naive or too shy to declare their love for each other.

Not soon after the introductions, Onion was killed in an accident. Onion's spirit left the earth and went on to the afterlife, on his way to Polaris, he was lucky enough to have been the 600M person admitted. He had a second chance to go back to earth and has 5 days to do all he had wanted to do. At this point the story gets very dramatic, Onion tries and tries to tell Autumn that he loves her, but can't convince her because he's in a new body. It gets more complex with Dr. Woo, who is after Autumn as well.

This movie was very well laid out and played through. Minor characters like William So, and Eric Tsang did a very impressive job with their roles. They built up a sense of compassion for them. For the lead roles played by Cecilia Cheung and Richie Ren, it was superb! Cecilia bursts into tears with ease, she is a wonderful actress. Richie Ren did another great job with his role. He provide both the dramatic and comic relief to the movie. ( a task very hard to accomplish).

The only problem I had with this, was possibly the not-so-well done computer effects towards the end. However, by that point in the movie, it wouldn't much matter.This is a wonderful movie to watch, you can't help but be drawn into and be captivated by it.


Reviewed by: future113
Date: 05/25/2001
Summary: 4.5 out of 5, Emotional and touching

This movie is worth getting the DVD for. Cecilia Cheung should get an award for this. Very sad movie that will make even tough guys teary eyed after watching it. The one disappointment I had for this movie is that it did not spend enough time to develop Autumn and Onion falling love b4 the accident, As a viewer, it was hard to believe that Autumn really loved Onion before he died. I liked Autumn's sister, she was funny. Also, the first 15 minutes seemed a bit cheesy and I was thinking it was going to be a dumb movie after the first 15 minutes. I'd give it 4.5 out 5 rating, definitely one to add to your hk collection.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: cantona7
Date: 05/18/2001
Summary: Good one to watch...

Richie Ren plays well in this movie, he acted really good. Combine with a strong hearted nurse Autumn (Cecilia Cheung) First, when i watched this movie, i said it was good, but it came even better after u watch it all over again.

This is a story about a blind person and also unable to speak. He was in love with his nurse, Autumn which made him feel his life is not worthless. Autumn herself did'nt realize that she also fell in love with this blind man named onion.

After she realized that her feelings WAS love, onion had already dead.
:(

I couldn't tell u the whole story, but the climax was really touching. The ending was good and all i wanted to say is it's a good film and really enjoyable to watch, i hadn't even bored yet after watching it for 4 times!!!!!!


Reviewed by: rolandyu
Date: 04/16/2001

I am a huge fans of Cecilia Cheung. This movie gave me a good look at her performance. I think she is good in playing with emotions. Her mimics and gestures has always put a comfortable and convincing actings.

The story is kinda obvious, but it's alright. The best and saddest scene for me was when Autumn heard the saxophone again and ran outside to find out that the guy was not Onion. When you imagine yourself to be Onion, I think it's very sad that you can't show it to your lover.

4.5/5

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: magic-8
Date: 11/22/2000
Summary: Familiar Plot With Nice Touches

"Fly Me to Polaris" has a familiar plot that deals with a person dying and returning to life. Richie Ren plays a blind man, who finds joy when Cecilia Cheung agrees to date him. The problem is that he is hit by a car as his spirits soar with the good news. Luckily for Richie, he is given an angelic reprieve and is able to rejoin the living for a brief time, but no one will recognize him and he can't tell others who he is. Regardless, he uses this time to get closer to Cecilia.

This is a tearjerker movie that is handled with confidence. You side with the characters and anticipate their moves, dabbing your eyes with a hanky because you already know the ending. And even so, you want the relationship between Richie and Cecilia to resolve itself with hope and fulfillment. This is where the direction is so important. Yes, we know what will unfold, but we don't really care because Jingle Ma has done a wonderful job of making the characters live. The viewer in turn goes for the ride and relives the world as Richie does. When Richie returns to the living he can see, but as he moves, he uses his sense of touch and feels his way by habit. He walks through the ward and can recognize the nurses by the way they smell. Details like this make the film seem real and inviting.

Jingle Ma looks like he has a promising future as a director. "Fly Me to Polaris" could have fallen into the sappy trappings of yet another trite sob story, but Jingle was able to rise above the flaws in the script and fantasy elements of the material to work with the actors to project a sense of immediacy. This was Cecilia's follow up to the "King of Comedy," and she continues to demonstrate her ever-growing range as an actor.

Have a box of tissues handy.


Reviewed by: MilesC
Date: 10/15/2000
Summary: Everyone here is right.

If you've forgotten the film's premise, which I had, the first fifteen minutes do not bode well; there's so many ultra-cutesy scenes, you'll wonder how they'll can introduce any conflict. Well, Richie Ren dies, is that good enough? From here on out the story pretty much writes itself; but despite the predictability of the plot, the emotional scenes are layed on so thick it's impossible to be unaffected. I imagine teenage girls across HK were devastated by this one. Oh, who am I kidding, trying to sound like a tough guy... The reviewers below admit to crying, so I'm in good company. Yeah, I got teary. I'm ashamed to admit that a movie so seemingly paint-by-numbers could do it to me, but it did... So, Mr. Ma, mission accomplished. My one objective comment... I'm not sure Richie Ren was the best choice for the lead. He doesn't bring anything to his role that outweighs the fact that he is dubbed. At any rate, despite Ren's dubbed dialogue and schmaltz so familiar you'll be guessing lines before they appear, ("don't see the world with your eyes..." all together now... "see it with your heart!") this is an effective weepie.


Reviewed by: shelly
Date: 03/06/2000
Summary: Jingle Ma and Cecilia Cheung work magic

First, a bit of plot. Fly Me to Polaris is a fantasy youth romance, in which blind and mute Onion (Richie Ren) and young romantic nurse Autumn (Cecilia Cheung Pak-chi) fall in love, without quite knowing it. Onion is quickly killed off in an accident. In a way-station on the path to heaven, an angel (Eric Kot) allows Ren five more days on Earth, with a catch: Ren will be able to see and speak, but he will be unrecognizable to everyone around him, and he is forbidden from revealing who he is. Returning to witness his own funeral, Ren finds Autumn in her grief, and tries to console her while recreating the love that they had never managed to express. Magically romantic things transpire with the aid of saxophones and meteor showers.
Even the most cynical, schmaltz-proof viewer (me) might find her- or himself struggling with embarrassment to stifle audible sobbing at the end of this remarkable little movie. One would think that such a pat, predictable, cloyingly uninspired clichZÿ of a screenplay (by Law Chi-leung and Yeung Sin-ling) -- with its range from insipid banality to, well, even greater insipid banality -- would safely rule out this sort of affective reaction. Think again. Movies can work magic, in the persons, here, of director / cinematographer Jingle Ma Chor-sing and star Cecilia Cheung.

The film looks stunning: even incidental moments are lit with virtuostic technique and shot with a sensitive, fluidly mobile, perfectly placed camera. Jingle Ma, the d.p. of many of Hong Kong's most beautiful recent films (The Reincarnation of Golden Lotus, Drunken Master II, Fong Sai Yuk, The Private Eye Blues, Love is Not a Game But a Joke), here illuminates an unworthy story in such a way as to transcend its limitations. He finds a beauty, grace, and integrity that seem entirely outside the reach of the screenplay. One striking example: the doubling of Ren's character (a dead man returned in an unrecognizable body, forced to inhabit a second personality while reconnecting with the people he had loved) is mirrored visually by means of a montage trick with Cecilia Cheung (2 parallel scenes are intercut: she's in a shopping mall, and she's at work, realizing in both that someone is secretly helping her, unseen, in each). Doublings redoubled; structure echoing story.
Magician number two is Cecilia Cheung, in only her second film. This nineteen-year-old actress somehow accomplishes what should be impossible: she gives her lines a depth and honesty that are nowhere to be found on the page. Although her costar Ren gives her no help at all (think of Wu Chien-lien struggling against Leon Lai in Eighteen Springs). See if your eyes can stay dry while watching the long take of her character struggle with finding, and losing her young love in the same moment, as her face swims in and out of focus, painted with her tears and Jingle Ma's play with depth-of-field.

Why, then, can this movie dignify such sappy material with such a generous treatment? Well, something is buried inside the story, an obsession with the pain of instant nostalgia, a life always on the verge of being, just now, lost to memory, achingly just beyond the grasp of experience. The best Hong Kong films of the moment are committed to exploring this particular sensation of loss and the pain and disorientation that results: Riley Yip's Metade Fumaca, Derek Chiu's Sealed With a Kiss, Wilson Yip's Bullets Over Summer.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: grimes
Date: 02/10/2000
Summary: Cheesy, predictable, but good

You can pretty much figure out the plot from the first 10 minutes of the film and there's not much new, but I hate to admit that it got to me anyway. I guess I'm just a big softie.

Cecilia Cheung is just so great in this movie it's not even funny. Richie Yam also gives a good performance, and I was particularly impressed with the way he shows how strange it is for a blind person to suddenly have sight.

The story is nothing too fantastic but the script is pretty strong. I particularly liked the way that much of the supporting cast is given a moment or two to shine, fleshing out what could have cardboard characters. If you don't feel at least a twinge in your heart watching this then you're cold indeed.


Reviewed by: nsbr1
Date: 12/23/1999

Get out your kleenex folks - this is probably the best HK weepie in years. If you can get through this one without shedding a tear or two, you are a better man/woman than I am! Simple and corny premise - a blind/mute patient falls in love with his nurse (Cecilia Cheung - and who wouldn't) - she with him - but he dies before they are able to tell one another. But he gets to come back for 5 days - bit in a different body and cannot tell her who he really is. Tears follow. Cecilia gives as true a performance as any you will see in a film of this kind - and its worth seeing it for her alone.


Reviewed by: ryan
Date: 11/21/1999
Summary: Fly Me to Polaris (1999)

Out of all the mainstream movies showing this week, 'Fly Me to Polaris' (1999) is the only non-horror movie showing. This movie has got a very fresh combination -- YAM Yin-chai from 'Gorgeous' and Cecilia CHEUNG Pak-chi from 'King of Comedy', combo with SO Wing-hong and Eric TSANG Chi-wai. Will this movie can give director MA Chor-shing a good word of mouth? Let's take a look.

Polaris is one of the planet of the Sun system. In this movie, it refers to the place you will go after you pass away. The movie starts with Onion (YAM Yin-chai), a young guy who is visual and vebal disabled, has maintained with good relationship with guys in the hospital. Autumn YU (Cecilia CHEUNG Pak-chi), a practical nurse in the hospital, has been fallen in love with Onion but hasn't presented her love. The leads to an misunderstanding with Dr. WOO (SO Wing-hong). On day, Onion died in a car accident. Being the 600m th guy 'flying to the polaris', he has been given 5 days back to alive but others in the World can't recognize him. He tried to keep close to Autumn but resulted in tons of misunderstanding. Time goes very fast, and he will be regreted if he cannot tell Autumn his love to her......

You can judge that 'Fly Me to Solaris' is a tragedy. Yeap, it's true. It is very impressive. I cried in the theatre when I was watching. Maybe the genre looks more or less like 'Ghost' but the whole stuff in touching. Director MA Chor-shing didn't do well in his first direction 'Hot War'. Now this is the movie he suits to direct.

The structure of the whole movie is clearly divided into four parts -- Days before Onion Died, the Reborn, the Misunderstanding and the End. The first part is not in details but with lots of hints helping to develop the whole movie. When the movie shows YAN Yin-chi reads the diary to Autumn, Autumn bursts into tears. It's so impressive!

For other part of the movies, it's sad but with laughters. On one hand, this lightens the dark feelings. On the other hand, it concentrates the love between Onion and Autumn which makes the ending much more impressive.

The side castings has given the movies much more power. Eric TSANG, LAM Shan-shan and TANG Shui-man have all played their roles well. Eric TSANG, as the Dad of Autumn, has got a very good dialogue with Onion. The performance of TANG Shui-man, who has been quite for awhile, is so funny which soften the dark feeling. LAM Shan-shan, as a DJ in a phone-in feeling program, has performed her job in creating the climate.

It is interesting that the chemical effects between Cecilia CHEUNG Pak-chi and YAN Yin-chi is so well. At first I am a bit uncertain if they can perform their roles well as Ceci has been in 'King of Comedy' only. This time they both played well. I think the script has helped them in discharging their roles. YAN is a disabled guy with lots of thing to say but cannot say. Such conflicts is well-presented. Ceci as a girl who has to face her days without her love, she feels her love is around but cannot touch, such feeling is also cool.

If you are looking for a quality Hong Kong movie of this summer or this year, you should get your tickets for 'Fly Me to Polaris'. It doesn't sound very attractive from castings but they have all done their jobs well. The plot is cool and the movie is impressive. Get your tissues ready or you need it in the theatre.